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Privacy on WhatsApp: how to safeguard your account

14/07/2017

What about privacy on WhatsApp? What about the small print that we usually fail to read? What conditions do we accept when we begin to use WhatsApp? Do you want to know more about WhatsApp’s privacy settings on your iPhone or Android?

privacy on whatsapp

Have you ever encountered a small pop up window that requests you to read terms of use or Privacy policy when installing WhatsApp or from any other app? What did you do? I bet you just checked the box and accepted the terms of use without even a single glance at its contents.

Well if you did, you accepted terms of use and WhatsApp privacy policy that you are not familiar with. Privacy today is a hot topic especially when it comes to messaging apps like WhatsApp.

Messaging apps collect a lot of information. For starters users message each other as individuals or via groups. Where do you think these messages are stored? Do you know which entities have access to these messages?

Not only that, users’ share videos, GIFs, documents, photos and audio files. They usually do so with the goal of letting other users enjoy the same content they have. Problem is no one knows what happens at the data centers.

This does not mean that something illegal happens, make note of that but since users don’t have access to data centers, well you have to wonder.

Today, we are going to delve into the privacy policy and terms of use that many users fail to read during installation of WhatsApp. These two documents basically inform users how WhatsApp developers store, use and share data with the parent company, Facebook.

WhatsApp is a cross platform messaging app which means the terms of use and privacy policy are available across different platforms – Windows mobile, Android, iPhone and Blackberry are managed by the company.

The encryption of end-to-end messages

In November 2014, policy makers, security professionals and watch groups raised an alarm regarding the amount of data being gathered by messaging apps. To top it all, the media uncovered through whistleblowers that intelligence services were accessing users ‘data without their knowledge.

To prevent this, WhatsApp security developers worked with Open Whisper Systems finally incorporating end to end encryption by default for all platforms. This resulted in messages being encrypted between users making it even inaccessible to WhatsApp developers.

As a result, users were protected. To ensure ultimate protection, WhatsApp security incorporates the Signal Protocol even today.

WhatsApp privacy policy 2017

WhatsApp-lockIn 2016, WhatsApp made a few changes to its Privacy Policy. As said earlier, users never take the time to read through the terms of use and privacy policy. I bet even when the changes were made, not many users noticed.

The changes became in effect as of August 25th 2016. We have highlighted the most important aspects.

The WhatsApp Privacy Policy recently underwent some updates that users should be aware of. These changes are in effect as of August 25, 2016.

The following are some of the more important aspects of the privacy policy changes.

  • You do remember that Facebook acquired WhatsApp on February 2014 and as a result, Facebook became its parent company. In its recent changes to the privacy policy, WhatsApp confirmed that they will share user information with Facebook. This is done to create advertising campaigns that are user based. The same information extends to other subsidiaries of Facebook like Instagram.
  • WhatsApp has confirmed that they have the ability of seeing the “last seen” and registered users contact information.
  • WhatsApp has added new capabilities to its platform for example allowing users to purchase airline tickets, have access to flight information as well as receive notifications for online orders. The messaging platform is also planning to encourage businesses to utilize the app as a marketing tool.
  • Since its inception, WhatsApp privacy guard developers have made it clear that ads (banners and text ads) will not feature on its platform. Seems they will be maintaining this feature.
  • WhatsApp has added the ability of disabling the sharing of information with other apps. This feature is available via WhatsApp settings.

WhatsApp privacy guard: 8 ways to protect our chats

When WhatsApp was first developed, its focus was on messaging. It was supposed to make messaging way cooler than SMS.

As time went by, the developers had to incorporate new features. This was done to ensure the messaging app stays attractive to its users.

As a result of the many upgrades, users are able to share documents, photos, contacts, audio files, GIFs and videos. That is not all.

Recent changes have enabled WhatsApp users to add filters to videos and photos making them attractive. Furthermore, WhatsApp now allows the creation of albums by grouping more than 5 images into an album. This feature is available right on the messaging platform.

To prevent hackers from accessing your chats, here are 8 killer tips to help you protect yourself.

1) Lock WhatsApp with a password or pin

You may have noticed that when you activate WhatsApp, you immediately have access to the app’s features.

Just imagine if your phone was stolen or got lost? Furthermore, a friend or relative may request to call someone with your phone only to end the call and start using your WhatsApp without your knowledge. They will browse through the photos, videos, chats and contacts among others.

This is not good as it compromises your privacy.

Since WhatsApp developers are yet to incorporate a password or pin protection, you can protect yourself using third party apps. These apps allow you to lock other apps and features of your phone. The only way one can access them is by inputting the correct password or pin.

For Android users, use Applock and for iOS users, use Master AppLock.

2) Prevent WhatsApp from saving photos in camera roll

We all share photos and videos with family, friends and groups on WhatsApp. Problem is the app saves the photos in a folder on your phone. This folder is accessible via gallery and allows snooping users to see photos you have shared with others on WhatsApp.

The good news is that you can prevent this. If you are using iPhone, you can fix this WhatsApp privacy issue by navigating to WhatsApp privacy settings, select Chat and uncheck Save to Camera Roll.

For Android users, they have to use a file explorer app like ES File Explorer to navigate to WhatsApp Pictures and Videos folder. Here, one should create a file in both folders titled ‘.nomedia.’

3) Hide last seen feature

The last seen feature was added so that users can know when another user was last online. Problem is the feature can lead to stalking. Can you imagine someone stalking you online? What will happen is that the other user will always see when you were online.

To hide this feature, simply go to Settings>Account>Privacy and set last seen to Nobody. What you need to know is that the feature will activate for others too.

4) Prevent accessibility to your profile photo

Today, the internet is full of trolls. It is common to find users opening social media accounts using a celebrity’s name and picture. They end up tweeting or posting messages that are full of hate and malice to others.

What people will see is the celebrity’s name and picture so they will assume he or she is the sender. This will definitely affect their reputation. What you need to know is that the same can happen to you.

To prevent accessibility to your profile picture, go to WhatsApp privacy Settings>Account>Privacy>Profile Photo set My Contacts and not Everyone.

5) Stay away from scams

Messaging apps are prone to scammers who are seeking private information like banking details and others. To ensure that you are well protected, never send photos, videos, voice message or chat with users not in your contacts. Always keep your eyes open for scams.

6) Deactivate WhatsApp if your phone is lost or stolen

As said earlier, it is very easy to lose your phone. Furthermore, it may be stolen without your knowledge. When this happens, many people rush to replace their SIM cards forgetting about the data their phones have.

To prevent unauthorized users from accessing your WhatsApp, deactivate it on a different phone with the new SIM card. Furthermore, you can delete your account via settings.

7) Be careful when chatting

Most users assume that just because they are behind a smart device, they are safe. What many users don’t know is that some of their messages may be shared with other users without their knowledge.

That is why it is advisable to be careful what you send. This helps to prevent hackers from stealing your conversations or performing other ill-intentions.

8) Logout from WhatsApp web’

It is important to remember to log out from WhatsApp web app. Doing so will prevent unauthorized access to your account.

Terms of use and privacy policy… what you really need to know

 Comic-book-WhatsApp-Question copia

It is very common that the terms and conditions of use go unnoticed for any app. Most users click on “I accept these Terms of Use and Privacy Policy” without even reading them.

We’re talking about those clauses written in small print that we find in each digital product.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Conditions can change anytime.
  • You must be 13 years old to use WhatsApp or get parents’ permission.
  • You cannot use the app in a country under US embargo, nor in any country that supports terrorists (WhatsApp is not with terrorists).
  • WhatsApp does not assume any liability for the content, privacy, and the actions of third-party websites. So if you click on a link that contains a virus, you are solely responsible for the consequences.
  • It is not allowed to reverse engineer and alter or modify any part of the service. This was the reason why WhatsApp Plus was blocked.
  • The app has the right to periodically access your contact list to locate new numbers to send and receive messages with them.
  • WhatsApp has outlawed spam.
  • You can delete your account at any time.
  • Finally, as suggested by WhatsApp, if you do not agree with these conditions, you can always decide not to use the app. 🙂

Final Thoughts

Now that you have learned 8 new ways for protecting your WhatsApp account from hackers, scammers and unauthorized users, it’s time to implement the changes. Remember, hackers and scammers come up with new methods to steal your data.

It is important to stay vigilant always. Furthermore, don’t forget to read the terms of use and WhatsApp privacy policy when installing or upgrading WhatsApp.





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